Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  December 23, 2013 7:15am-8:01am EST

7:15 am
taliaferro author of "all the great prizes: the life of john hay, from lincoln to roosevelt," and h. w. brands, author of "the man who saved the union: ulysses s. grant in war and peace." this is about 45 minutes. >> thanks to all of you for coming out this afternoon. we have with us to historians who have written two new books about a couple major 19th century figures in american history and politics. to my immediate left, h. w. brands has written this book about ulysses s. grant called "the man who saved the union: ulysses s. grant in war and peace." and to my father left we have john taliaferro -- to my farther left we have john taliaferro and his book is called content about the statesman john hay. so i thought what we could do is
7:16 am
start by asking each of our authors starting with h. w. about his subject and why they wanted to write it right now. h.e.w.? >> yeah, thanks, erica. thanks all for coming. i wrote a book about ulysses s. grant because i had music that he said i was going to write a history of the united states through biographies. i had written my way up to the middle of the 19th century. then i had a gap and i picked it up again at the end the 19th century and i'd been avoiding the civil war for a while for a number of reasons. one is there's lots of subjects about the civil war. secondly, there was a lincoln bicentennial that was coming and it was pretty clear, it was 2009 and it was pretty clear stuff on lincoln was going to suck the air out of all the rooms on the general subjects i wanted to give it some clearance. when i eventually came back to it i wanted to write about
7:17 am
someone -- i had a very specific need. i needed an individual whose public career or adulthood could spam from 1845 when the biggest subject, andrew jackson died, and was still going in about 18 a.d. when my next subject, theodore roosevelt, became an adult. i needed someone who live that long who pretty much ruled out abraham lincoln. the other reason was i wanted to write about a soldier. i had written about someone who was primarily famous for being a soldier. my observation and reading of history convinced me that soldiers have an outsized importance on human history were drives a lot of what happens in human history. i wanted to pick someone who which in no particular -- arches
7:18 am
rise as a soldier and grant fit the bill quite admirably. i'm teaching an introductory class on american history that goes from a colonial times in 1865. been on the second half of course starting 1865 and go to the present. it suggests something ended in 1865 which, of course, it did. the civil war. the problems the give rise to the civil war didn't end. they simply took on a new form and became more stubborn than ever. i wanted someone whose career included over the civil war and reconstruction. if you narrow it down and grant is you guys who he became my guy. >> one quick follow up to that.
7:19 am
so grand has been written about in lots of biographies, and this book's reception was very warm and also it can crack the a lot of misimpressions or gave a new view of grant. censure looking to go back out historically chronologically, were you surprised at what you found out about grant? >> i wasn't surprised too much about what i discovered about grant because i have a big advantage over a lot of people who write history in that i teach history. i had been thinking -- i've been preparing to write this book for the previous 25 years because i teach american history and i knew the ground of reconstruction in the civil war. one of the things i knew was there had never been more difficult for them to be president of the united states that in the decade after the civil war. one of the points i try to make in the book is that war is easy. politics is hard. it's one of the attractions of war i think because a question i
7:20 am
posted my students every semester is a very basic question of history. why is their war? why do humans go to war as often as we do? every society does it. every society makes a really big deal and i want to know why this is so. part of the appeal of war is the things become very simple and straightforward in war. if you look at the history of the crisis in the united states, the centerpiece of the book, in the 1840s and 1850s things get complicated because north and south have different views of how to handle the issue of slavery. each side, all parties, have votes. in politics yet to listen to the other side and if they have votes and they can frustrate what you try to accomplish, even if you're convinced you have god and morality on your site. if you don't have the votes you can't get what you want, until war breaks out. the biggest mistake the south ever made, the biggest mistake that defenders of slavery every
7:21 am
made was to secede. because then you shift from politics where they have a veto over what could happen to slavery to the battlefield where you don't have any veto at all. if you resort to war you have to accept the outcome of war. if you lose the war and you lose the things you try to fight for. that's the easy part. with grant, with other journals including sherman and robert e. lee. one of the reasons they were drawn to war, they thrived under the clear light of war. in war tends to be black and white. they are are your guys and the enemy. you live or you die. win the war ends and grant becomes president during reconstruction, things get all gray again. i wanted to draw out the contrast. one of the points i tried to make in the book is until quite recently grant was considered one of the two or three worst presidents in american history. you can give reasons for this. there were scandals, that sort
7:22 am
of thing, but it's a demonstration of a contradiction of what's generally considered to be a truism, and that is the victors write the history. that's not the case in american history in the civil war. in fact, it was the southern interpretation of the civil war as a lost cause, how it was about states' rights and all this, how lead was great general and grant was a butcher. those were the ones that took hold until very late results. so i didn't set out trying to rehabilitate grant as president. that was sort of a side effect of the project. grant will never be ranked as a great president but he was a whole lot better than he was given credit for. a couple things can be said in the same and is mostly a matter of standing up for principle rather than getting results. grant was the first president in american history to take the rights of native americans seriously. he was the one who instituted policy of setting aside land, reservations, where they could
7:23 am
live. more or less unmolested. it didn't last very long. he couldn't hold back the time of western settlement. and grant also was the only president since abraham lincoln and lyndon johnson to take civil rights for african-americans is a. he broke up the ku klux klan in the south but again he could not hold back the tide of public opinion in a pretty racialist, a racist society. it demonstrated there are limits to democracy. one of the fundamental question is what do you do in a democracy it's a majority support the policy that is simply wrong, unethical, immoral? what do you do in a case like that? in fact there's no good answer to that question. >> john, your subject is someone who has a really a assumption career. he was young when he became secretary and he remains an active influential figure in american politics until teddy
7:24 am
roosevelt administration in which he served as secretary of state. but john hay for all his accomplishments and all his expenses i think hasn't had a biography written since the '30s. how did you come to write this? talk about what you found. >> there's ulysses s. grant and then there is john hay. [laughter] >> i'm sorry. is that working? great. as i said, there is ulysses grant and john hay. their lives paralleled each other very closely and intersected a number of times, and we can talk more a little bit later about lincoln and the civil war sucking all the oxygen out of the room. my approach is a little us methodical. i'm not a trained historian to i'm basically a reader and the books i've written, my hunting ground, my reading ground, and
7:25 am
as i've read and researched for other books, john hay keeps appearing like an old movie in the corner. he's in every corner of the photo from that period. as the subtitle says, from lincoln to roosevelt. and what i'm looking for is a man with a story, and john hay's story is incredibly dimensioned. and he himself was a storyteller. he was one of the great literary figures of his time, as well as one of the great public figures. i guess what really tipped my hand to dig deeper to john hay was when i discovered not only was john hay and -- at abraham lincoln's bedside when he died, he was with mckinley at his
7:26 am
deathbed. i realized that in history, and to a lot of historians and to a lot of people i talk to, like two hands on an accordion. there is lincoln on one hand, you roosevelt on the other. you open the and a part and all of the chapters of american history fall out and seeing very beautifully in between. as bill said, you have as with all responsible biographies, you have a vehicle to tell the history of the times. john hay's fingerprints were on every bit of that history from the civil war through to his death in 1905, the first 50 years of the republican party. and then i also realize a lot of people, the lincoln people, the
7:27 am
lincoln camp all know about john hay's because john hay of course lived in the white house with lincoln for four years and so much of what we know about lincoln intimately, what he ate for breakfast, how he sat a horse, how he told a joke, all of the things that we know about lincoln from all the other wonderful lincoln books we've read, most of those can be attributed back to john hay's observation of lincoln in the white house. on the other hand, the other side of the accordion, you have an equally robust crowd, and that is the roosevelt crowd. and john hay was ambassador to england or mckinley. mckinley brought him back to be secretary of state. he was on deck when america emerged as a world power. and when mckinley died, theodore roosevelt kept him on as secretary of state.
7:28 am
secretary of state. what i discovered is that there were a lot of people didn't realize it was the same john hay at either end of the history. so filling in that period in between was what i tried to do, and it turned out to be a great, at least an adventure for me. >> john, could you talk about john hay's perception of grant? they met during civil war because he worked with lincoln and, of course, also served under lincoln. it's interesting because as you described there seems to be an ambivalent where john hay respects them and was impressed by how unassuming and how unaffecteunaffecte d he is in some ways and then there's also as grand approaches the presidency that john hay feels like the trade that grant brought to the battlefield, backfired. >> well, john hay, like lincoln,
7:29 am
thought grant was a great general. and that he won the war. john hay thought grant was a lousy president, and the were quite a few who agreed with him. you remember the republican party had just been formed in 1854, and was just clarifying its identity when the war broke out. and lincoln was the republican party. and after lincoln's assassination and after the unfortunate years of andrew johnson, grant came in office. and as carrying the flag for republicanism, john hay felt that he knew as well as anyone what lincoln stood for. he had almost been literally
7:30 am
blaze in lincoln's blood. with reconstruction, struggling, there were a lot of critics of how that was being handled either white house, and there was a lot of question about what the republican party should be. we know that the grant administration was rife with corruption. john hay, he was working at the "new york tribune" under horace greeley, and they formed their own splinter republican party called the liberal republican party, and ran against grant. so, and hay was very merciless towards grant and all the editorials. but it didn't really matter. grant -- hay, who felt he was sort of a conscious of
7:31 am
republicanism from lincoln all the way through to the roosevelt administration, never forgave grant for the sullying of the republican image that he thought had been established by of course is great mentor. i mean, is great president, abraham lincoln. >> i will ask bill how he would respond to the. something she mentioned earlier, grants effort to defend native american rights, civil rights, albeit for a different approach than hay would've preferred. >> john hit the critical part. the republican party was born in two different intellectual strength. one was anti-slavery and the other one was pro-movement. if you want to you can call one is the conscious wing of the party and the corporate wing of the party. as long as they were in opposition as often happens,
7:32 am
when parties are in opposition to different parts of the party control to give. as long as the civil war was on, as long as lincoln who became the leader of the party was alive, the two wings could work together. during the civil war the antislavery faction and the pro-business faction made effective common cause. but after lincoln died it was almost like the death of mohammed, where the followers began to dispute what did lincoln really believe and who is the true heir of lincoln. and at this point the two wings of the party begin to diverge, because the anti-slavery wing unwelcome slave is not around anymore so exactly what do we do? do we push hard for civil rights for equal rights for the freedom and? that was a bridge too far for even some of the former abolitionists. and it was the corporate wing of the party, the capitals wing this is okay, the real reason that we objected to the
7:33 am
democratic control of the south was that they got in the way of the industrial revolution. and so one of the reasons for the corruption that john cited that did happen, i'll digress briefly to say the big scandals of the gilded age which are often blamed that grants it had nothing to do with grant. ms. kemp about the construction of the transcontinental rental -- railroad come that was all before grant. and the tweet us kind of that a bunch of local politics to do a few scandals but nothing extraordinary. the problem is the republicans now can't figure out who they are what they are supposed to be. grant is this figure who tries to straddle the divide. on the one hand, it's fair to say in his support for the african-american former slaves, he is the last lincoln republican but, of course, lincoln himself had that other site. lincoln was a corporate lawyer.
7:34 am
so lincoln was behind the pro-business legislation. if lincoln had lived, one hesitates to say this about a tragic death, but it was the best career move he could have made to be assassinated. because he exits the scene when things get messy. if lincoln had lived, lincoln's reputation would not be what it is today. he is generally considered to be the greatest of american presidents. but if it had to deal with reconstruction he would've come across exactly what grant had to deal with. he would have faced a revolt within the party and he would've faced a revolt by congress. one of the reasons we remember lincoln is that he could effectively by degree in slavery. those of you who've seen the movie and then realizes he understood that was a wasting power. it's one of the reasons you so concerned with getting the 13th a minute in the constitution. it's a huge problem, and john hay, there were a whole lot of people who were quite happy with
7:35 am
grant while he was a general. but get him out of his milieu into politics and i thought, of the people who know more about politics ought to be in charge. i'll just say this, that if you think, if you didn't like grant as president, if horace gray had become president, boy, that would've been a disaster. he had no standing at all. the thing that made grant successful is that he was the most popular man in the united states. and in a democracy that counts for a lot. >> that brings me to another question. i want to make clear this question is not about republicans, democrats, party ideas as we see them today but sort of small d. democrats, small or republicans. grain is kind of the more democratic figure in that sense he was the one who had elections, could have run for reelection but decided bad to break with the tradition. even at the time of his final
7:36 am
illness and his death was followed closely by papers and have people hanging on wondering what was happening with him and what would become of them. where's john, he wrote about hay he was, i don't know if he was the last one of the great defenders of this sort of tradition of gentlemanly behavior, meeting behind closed doors kind of diplomacy pursued are talking about any kind of quiet judicious way, outside of public view with other highly informed, highly influential people. said was kind of a great republican in a small our sense spent another of the differences between grant and hay was john hay was very much cosmopolitan. he spoke four languages. he traveled widely in europe, dressed by the finest tailors, could quote greek and latin off the top of his head. and that wasn't grant.
7:37 am
[laughter] and not to stretch the comparison too far, but we talk about what's going on, what's going on in the republican party throughout its history, the attrition side of the party, and the more grittier side of republicanism, or those embodied in their two characters. >> if i could add something to that. erica has raised an interesting question. the type of people who could hold political office in this country, and i perceive a difference between those people who can get elected and those people can simply get a point. hay was a good example of someone who did his best work as an appointee. especially in the gilded age. he was not the kind of guy who could get elected too much. there was this distinguished tradition of people like that which includes dean acheson, clark clifford, george shultz.
7:38 am
one an argument the elder george bush who really had this quite distinguished appointed career and when he finally had to run on his own, he lost in 1993. he won in 88 by douche is a successor of reagan. >> politics is dirty. >> that really has a lot to do with it because there is among the hay crowd that opined, a certain distaste or least discomfort for what democracy has become, or is. as you know, henry adams famously said that if you want to see a contradiction of the theory of evolution, all you have to do is look at american presidents from george washington to ulysses grant. and there are people like that who either don't want to put themselves through which i could which is a through to get elected, or in some kind of vague way, usually unstated,
7:39 am
they are rather dismissive, even scornful of the whole idea that void gets a vote. i'll just say that you don't have to look much beyond washington in the last two or three years to really wonder, i mean, i say this as a fan of democracy, it is this the last word in a way countries are run? >> i'll have a follow-up to john on that point. in the meantime we will do q&a with the audience are going to start lining up in the back i will transfer because after the next question. john, in response to that point phone bill, it's interesting the comparison to churchill because i think he's had hay is in some ways like churchill. but in reading the book it strikes me how well the hay work
7:40 am
with teddy roosevelt, when he didn't seem to have necessary and natural affinity of temperament or approach but they ended up having quite a good working relationship. >> they didn't box a lot together. [laughter] john hay was like a son to abraham lincoln. lincoln had not been very close with his eldest son, robert, for a number of reasons. they were just a part often. hay was treated like a son and was actually stricken when lincoln died. 35 years later when theodore roosevelt came in the office, very suddenly, john hay became like a father to theodore roosevelt. hay had known roosevelt when he was a little boy, had been a friend of his father in new york. roosevelt was exactly 20 years
7:41 am
younger than hay. roosevelt's father had died when he was in his 20s in college. and so they did have a lot of differences. strenuous, teddy and for john hay stroll along the avenue in his top hat was pretty good exercise. and yet they had a terrific rapport. jon agan essentially -- john hay essential was a guy who walked and talked softly while theodore roosevelt, granted the big stick. they got in the habit of, rosa will go off to church on sunday morning when he happened to be in washington. he would come by john hay's house which was on the side of what is now the hay hotel and it was said in his parlor and talk about politics and talk about what was going on publicly.
7:42 am
teddy roosevelt would say, i made all the big decisions, i was the administration. but it served him very well to have this avant-garde paternal figure giving him advice throughout his term and they worked terrifically well as a team. i discover and declare in my book more so than i think people really realize. >> start with questions with you. >> my question is for mr. brands. i was really stunned in your book by the extent between the wars grant was, the amount of family and innovation but it seems to me like in his mid '30s, like you said, working for the father complex reparation -- the separation from his wife. he goes on to become the highest ranking general sense washington
7:43 am
in best selling author. did anything like that ever happened now? i'm guessing that. and second, was that sort of transformation, in the 19th 19th century? are there other figures like that who had that dramatic contrast? >> whether this is sort of like success, unexpected success could happen today, i'm guessing it could but it would require a great crisis. on the order of the civil war, or world war, something like this. because it only worked for grant because it utterly change the context in which he lived. now, in trying to account for this period in grant's life, i really have to do my best to suspend the historians to of hindsight. because i knew what he became an us tended to go back and look for clues that this is what is going to become. but, of course, grant had no idea this is what is going to become. i'm pretty confident that if there had not been a civil war,
7:44 am
grant would never have amounted to anything. one of the reasons i say this is that unlike some other public figures whose ambition was evident to a lot of people, who probably would have succeeded at something if not this or that or the other thing. if you look ahmadinejad, you can see the ambition from the time he was young but here's a kid who grows up in the hills and he's going to become something. with grant, i knew what he became the 90 he became a great military figure of his age, the most popular american president, a world figure. and i'm looking back to see, so where is the ambition that makes this all possible. maybe i was not very observant but i couldn't find it. so there's a moment that i describe in the book where in the early part of 1861, grant had to commit himself by accepting an offer to work for his younger brother in the
7:45 am
family business, something he tried to avoid the whole time. he was nearly 40 and he is living in a rented house in galena, illinois, and the high point of his day is playing with the little kids on the floor of the living room. he seemed to be reasonably content. people who knew him then didn't think he was bid or his life had come to anything. no. that was his life. and the war comes and discovers in its of something that he had no clue about, as far as i can tell, that he had this genius for military command. if you think back and it's not too surprising he wouldn't have found it, because war is this different sort of thing. america can have served in the war with mexico in a junior position. there you take other people's orders. you don't formulate strategy but he discovered when he had command he was really good at it and he rocketed to the top of his profession. if not for the work that
7:46 am
wouldn't have happened and they think he would've lived out the rest of his life with that particular talent undiscovered. >> to add the bills answer, just briefly, just two words, colin powell. if he had run for president he might have been elected. certainly would've been a best selling author. and who knows what kind of trouble is administration would have gotten in. >> i had an ancestor who served under sherman and grant who was a brigadier general. i spent years studying his campaign under sherman and grant, and i've read a lot of books, got a lot of stuff from the library of congress on hay. does a guy who wrote a book called the best hated man. i was real trees. i ordered the book and i found out that my ancestor who served impeccably under sherman and grant was hated by grant,
7:47 am
sherman, shared in and every soldier. he was appointed of the chief signal officer by rutherford hayes and he died in the capacity. and yet he was the best hated man because he was involved in exposing all the scandals under grant. my question to you, mr. brands, in all this research i've done, i understand that grant also had a civil war act, okay. he created the civil rights act, civil rights act, but he didn't enforce it and dedicate a little bit of a smudge in addition to these scandals. what is your common? >> i'll take issue with it. congress passes legislation so that was a civil rights act in 1867 and that was before grant became president. what grant did was to persuade congress to pass something that came to be known as the ku klux klan act. this at a time when the ku klux klan was doing its best to undo
7:48 am
the union victory in the civil war. now, some of you may know that when robert e. lee surrendered to grant at appomattox in 1865, that by itself did not actually end of the war because there were several other confederate generals in the field, and lee spoke only for the army of north virginia. the great fear of grant and other late including it into at this point is still alive was the confederate army would disband and would engage in guerrilla warfare from the mountains for us are in the future as anybody could see. in fact, that's exactly what the ku klux klan became. and the ku klux klan did its best to keep african-americans and white republican supporters from exercising the rights they were supposedly guaranteed under the 14th and 15th amendments. for grant persuaded congress to give him extraordinary powers to extend habeas corpus for the state authorities could not
7:49 am
enforce the law. this was a huge -- it was a huge reach by the federal government. because the federal government did not enforce laws in those days. the states enforce laws but when the state systematically did not defend the right tom supposedly guaranteed under the constitution, then congress said the grant, you can act. the essential let him metaphorically mount up once again and lead the troops into battle. is grant succeeded in breaking up the ku klux klan, and so the clan dissipated as of the end of 1871, not to revive begin until a 20th century under rather different circumstance. so grant did defend the rights of the freed men as much as anyone could. what grant understood was, and this gets back to what i was saying about the difference between wartime and peacetime, in peacetime in a democracy you can't rely on the army. you can't rely on coercion. you have to resort to persuasion. and when people don't want to be
7:50 am
persuaded, especially in a federal system like ours, it's fair to say that a majority in the country as a whole was more or less in favor of more or less equal rights. there's a lot of more or less there but it's also clear to say that a strong majority in every southern state was bitterly opposed to that. so when can the federal government impose the national will over and against the state wills? it's a problem where, well, we see today with obama get and whether texas is going to opt in or opt out but it's an issue that doesn't go away in our system. >> my question is for mr. brands. what was the most challenging aspect of doing this book for you? was it as you referred to the hindsight or was it something else? >> the question is what was the hardest part about doing this. suspending eyesight, but the other thing was to try to figure
7:51 am
out what it was that made this seemingly ordinary person so good at what he did, and this comes down to the question of in what lies, i'll call it military genius and all use of the term genius. that everybody would agree with me but we can argue about it. but here's the thing. what is it that makes one person a great general and another person not? why was granted the one who led the union army to victory and not george mcclellan, for example? and i came to conclude that grant get -- i'll call it a gift, late into the. one, it was sort of intellectual our mental and the other one was fundamentally moral but i'll let you decide how moral this other one was the first one is, grant had an ability to visualize, to imagine the battlefield. this was critical at a time when there was effectively no aerial reconnaissance, to figure out where your forces were, where
7:52 am
the enemy forces were, how they interacted with each ring. this is something grand was very good at. you can see a little bit of this and grant when he was at west point as a cadet. he was a surprisingly good artist and hid his artistic imagination. the bigger deal, the thing that distinguished grant from mcclellan for example, in all use this term, you see is literally true, grant could pull the trigger. mcclellan was at least as good as grant was at praying for battle. mcclellan was beloved of the soldiers but he gave them everything they needed. he stroked egos, but, maybe i shouldn't say but, and he never sent them into battle. what grant did was to attack. this strategy was simple. attack and attack and then attack. now, this aspect of grant i found to be was a trait that was both apple and all pulling at the same time to admirable in that if you have to have a war,
7:53 am
you want to people who can win the war. you have to be able to do this in order to win the war. but it's appalling in that grant could walk around his camp on the night before about, and he would talk with his soldiers and encourage them, but he knew to a statistical certainty that hundreds, oddly thousand of those young men would be dead by noon the next day. and he could still give the order to go it. that's not something, i think for chile, that everybody could do. i'm pretty sure i could never give such an order and i think it's good that most people can't. it's the thing that separates grant on the other, lincoln went through five generals before he came up with grant. i guess if that's the secret that i discovered, that's probably it. i don't really know what to make of it. it's still existed maybe it's up to higher chain of command but if you're president of the china today, do you order drone
7:54 am
strikes knowing that civilians are going to die? well, you sort of have to if you are going to be a leader of a great nation. >> this one is more directed to mr. brands. you talked about how history was written by the victors but you also said that most of our knowledge from the support comes from the south. my question is why didn't you write the videography and somebody today like -- robert e. lee comes to mind, some from south like jefferson davis. >> so is the question why didn't i write about them over -- >> i mean, war is still two-sided spent let me elaborate on this basis of the southern interpretation of the war. one of the things that happened and people like john hay were complicit in this, and many members of the republican party, in fact those who call themselves liberal republicans who joined in with the democrats to run against grant in 1872.
7:55 am
there was this great desire and one can understand it, to forget those late unpleasantries as southerners like to call the civil war. they wanted to get over the sexual crisis and get on with building the nation. part of this was, you could call it, part this was the business takeover of american politics. because one of the things that occurred to the corporate class, the capitalist classes in america was once the civil war ended, the south became the new frontier. the south had been largely un-capitalist, even at the capitalist before the civil war with an economy based on a feudal system of slavery. slavery is gone and/or these enormous opportunities. this is what gave rise to the so-called carpetbaggers, the people in south trying to make a buck. in order for this to happen those wounds had to be healed. had to forget about well, ma the civil war and what it was really about. the reason the grant got into politics, grant was not eager to go into politics but like some
7:56 am
other generals, including as late as dwight eisenhower, people came to him and said, you know, you guided this country to victory in war, and unless you take the helm, the victory will be undone. in grant's case it look at what's happening in the south already, and somebody needs to stand up for what abraham lincoln stood for. later on in the 1950s when people came to dwight eisenhower and said the republican party is reporting the isolationism. robert taft with the candidate of the traditional republican. basted eisenhower, and let you run in the republican party will take over and will be handed the isolations the victors that you want in europe with a great cause during the war will be undone. that's what god grant into politics. >> my question is for john. your book deals with a long period of time and kind of behind the scenes of history and politics. i was wondering what percentage
7:57 am
of across in your research and work that most surprised you or intrigue you? and also, what event that perhaps is not very well-known? >> the girlfriends. [laughter] but maybe that's not surprising. it's often been said about john hay backing everybody in the gilded age -- that he knew everybody in the gilded age of the presidents, the major robber barons, every significant author, mark twain, william dean howells, who wrote the first significant review of portrait of a lady for his great friend, henry james. and i guess the point is he wasn't collecting friends so much as they were collecting
7:58 am
him. and john hay, i quickly realized was regarded as everybody's favorite guy. they all wanted to be around him. they wanted to hear his words. they wanted to be included at the dinner table and they went away the next day repeating him. of all of those friends, all of those acquaintances, and the adams was his dearest friend. they build side-by-side houses in washington, and there's never been another friendship like this. they wrote to each other over many years. they wrote letters knowing that they would be received -- might never be received. they wrote letters to each other knowing that they would see each other before the letter arrived. they took a daily walks. it was one of the great extraordinary friendships of any era. they didn't necessarily disagree. henry adams was more
7:59 am
democratically inclined, and john hay of course was republican. and yet they couldn't really be without each other. ever closer to each other than they were to their own wives. nothing sexual employed there, but the thing that really resonates strong and really holds the core of my story is a wonderful, wonderful friendship between these two men. >> all right. thank you so much everyone for coming. authors will go to the signing tent behind you. [applause] >> thank you. >> you are watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays beijing live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events. and every weekend at the latest
8:00 am
nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs to get our schedules at our website, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> here's a look at what's ahead this morning. .. >> host: this week on "the communicators" we focus on the future of television.

51 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on